Yolo Judge Notes Tougher Sacramento Court Probation Rules, Releases DUI Defendant

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By Tiffany Devlin

WOODLAND – Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt argued that Defendant Jose Morales Alvarez “should be treated like other Yolo County defendants,” after comparing apparently the much more burdensome Sacramento probationary rules with Yolo County’s on Monday.

Alvarez was charged with a hit-and-run and driving under the influence in 2016. His case was transferred from Sacramento Superior Court to Yolo Superior Court.

After identifying an error in the calculation of time-served credits for Alvarez, Judge David W. Reed decided to release Alvarez on his own recognizance.

“In my calculation of credits, there was an error, so he’s actually over 364 as of today,” Van Zandt claimed.

After Van Zandt submitted his memorandum regarding the original Sacramento case, he learned that Alvarez had a low blood alcohol level of 0.07%, along with sustaining a broken finger as a minor injury.

Van Zandt filed a sentencing memorandum, requesting to vacate Alvarez’s sentence. He proposed that Alvarez should be released Monday, and his probation terminated.

“The reason I’m asking to terminate probation early, is that he would have been placed on probation for no more than four years had the sentencing originally taken place in Yolo county. He would not have gotten five. For example, I recently had a client charged with the same thing, a hit-and-run and DUI, also her first felony. She got four years probation.”

Deputy District Attorney Matt De Moura, opposing, argued that it was not appropriate to terminate probation early for Alvarez.

“Given that Mr. Morales Alvarez is facing his third VOP (violation of probation), I think it’s premature to terminate early,” De Moura said, adding, “As far as release today, I also don’t believe that’s appropriate. The credits issue can be addressed at sentencing if the VOP is sustained on the 24th.”

After review of the time-served credits, Judge Reed agreed with the defense attorney.

“I agree with Mr. Van Zandt as to the correct number of days between December 3, 2016 and January 27, 2017,” Judge Reed declared. “It looks like as of today, he has 185 days credit.”

“He should be treated like other Yolo County defendants. We should not perpetuate Sacramento’s system; I don’t know why they do it… but they give everyone five years probation. Since being placed on probation, he’s picked up one law violation, driving on a suspended license, for which he admitted. He’s had a failure to do time; we’re addressing that today,” said the judge.

Van Zandt argued that Alvarez has a minimal record, where this is his first felony case. He concluded his argument, stating that there is no reason for Alvarez to continue probation for a fifth year if he is not a danger to the public.

“On the termination of probation issue, I don’t agree that simply because he got five years in Sacramento whereas he may or may not have gotten three years here is grounds to terminate early,” De Moura responded in opposition.

“What we’re seeing is that we’re on our third violation of probation…” De Moura continued, “we’re getting to a point where Mr. Morales Alvarez is showing he’s not admissible to probation. You don’t just terminate someone simply from probation, and release them back into the community unsupervised when they haven’t demonstrated that they have been rehabilitated.”

De Moura concluded that Alvarez is someone who is not complying with his terms, and asked that he remain unreleased, pending admission to probation.

Judge Reed decided to release Alvarez on his own recognizance, noting that the minute order should reflect that Alvarez has 185 actual days in custody, more than 360 days of combined conduct and actual days’ credit.

Judge Reed also ordered probation to prepare a supplemental report in order to determine whether probation should be terminated early, and to summarize Alvarez’s performance on probation.

Another hearing will be held on November 3.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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